Madrid (Spain), Dec 7 (IANS) Two games that may be crucial to the outcome of La Liga are set to grab the headlines this weekend in Spain, as Betis hosts Real Madrid and Girona travels for a short trip to face FC Barcelona.
Real Madrid and Girona enter the 16th round of games level on points at the top of La Liga. However, Madrid are dealing with a long list of injuries, with Dani Carvajal joining Vinicius Junior, Eder Militao, Thibaut Courtois, Eduardo Camavinga, and Aurelien Tchouameni in the treatment room.
The big question marks over Madrid's trip to Betis include who will play at right back, with Nacho Fernandez expected to get the nod, and whether a fit-again Kepa will replace Andriy Lunin in goal, reports Xinhua.
Betis have maintained an unbeaten record in La Liga in their last 10 matches but might feel the strain from their efforts on a heavy pitch in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night, while Real Madrid, Barca, and Atletico Madrid were all exempt from playing.
Girona's visit to Montjuic on Sunday is likely the weekend's most anticipated game, as Girona continue to match Real Madrid's pace and has displayed resilience to come back and win in three of their last four matches.
Coach Michel Sanchez plans to rest the majority of his first-team regulars in their Cup game on Thursday, ensuring players such as Savio, Yangel Herrera, and Aleix Garcia will be fresh.
Barca's 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid a week ago boosted morale among Xavi Hernandez's side, and the return to fitness of Frenkie de Jong and Pedri has been an important boost.
The bad news for Xavi includes Inigo Martinez being out with a torn hamstring and Marc Andre Ter Stegen requiring back surgery, while Ronald Araujo is set to play wearing a facemask after breaking his jaw against Atletico.
Atletico slipped to fourth after their defeat but are expected to have an easier game at the weekend when they host Almeria, who are winless after 15 league games and were eliminated from the cup by fourth-tier Barbastro on Wednesday.
The round of matches begins with Getafe hosting Valencia in a game between two sides tied in the table. Getafe coach Jose Bordalas, who led Valencia two seasons ago, has once again made Getafe tough to beat, if not fun to watch.
Alaves' solid home record will face a test from Las Palmas on Saturday lunchtime, although the visitors may not have welcomed playing extra time in their cup tie away to Tudelano on Wednesday.
Villarreal's recovery under Marcelino Garcia Toral face a challenge from Real Sociedad, who lost winger Ander Barrenetxea to an ankle injury but have forward Umar Sadiq fully fit and scoring spectacular goals.
Saturday concludes with a tense match at the bottom of the table as Mallorca and Sevilla both seek to end their long winless runs. Mallorca has only one win all season and hasn't won in 10 league matches, while Diego Alonso hasn't secured a league victory with Sevilla since joining in October, with Sevilla's winless streak extending back eight games.
Alexander Medina makes his home debut as Granada coach against an in-form Athletic Club Bilbao, who boast the pace of the Williams brothers to challenge a defense that has conceded 35 goals this campaign.
Cadiz hasn't won in La Liga since September 1st, while their rivals Osasuna have gone five games without victory in another duel in the bottom half of the table, with Osasuna benefiting from not playing a midweek cup match.
The round of matches ends on Monday with Rayo Vallecano aiming to bounce back from last weekend's thrashing in Bilbao at home to Celta Vigo, who remain third from the bottom with just one win all campaign.
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